Initial Testing of Papers to Identify a Paper Negative Candidate

December 07, 2015  •  2 Comments

I am starting the process of trying to identify potential papers that could work for paper negatives.  I will be making my own silver gelatin emulsion and I need a substrate for my emulsion. My ultimate goal is to get to a place where I can make my own negative emulsion from raw materials and use it on a substrate such as paper or glass and be able to consistently produce with a good degree of quality.  

I would prefer to find a paper that I could use over glass plates simply because of the handling and storage factors.  Both of which I want to avoid if I can, but I will use glass and overcome my biases if I have to.  I can't be using commercial films and papers in my off the grid darkroom! 

After I successfully identify a paper that I can use long term, I will begin the development process of the negative and contact print it.  I will most likely make my own D23 developer and start with that first.  After this part of the process is solid, I will be making my own silver gelatin printing emulsion and hand coating my paper to make contact prints.  I will most likely make two different emulsions, collodio-chloride and silver chloride.  

I took the first steps today in this journey and I selected a handful of potential papers that may work for me.  Only first-hand testing will reveal the truth, so it all begins here.  I did not want to waste my hand-made emulsion, so I used some commercial liquid emulsion to see how each paper would react.  I simply poured a little bit on each paper and on the small test strip in the lower left corner, I quickly coated it with a glass rod.  My only goal is to just see how the paper responds to the emulsion and I was not concerned about creating a high-quality coating today.  

I selected papers that were as smooth as I could find because I want high-quality detailed negatives.  I included Arches Platine because I keep a lot of it on hand for printing, so I thought I would include it.  

I am going to let these sit overnight and I will evaluate the papers tomorrow morning.  I will be looking for how the paper reacted to the emulsion in this first step.  I tested a wide variety of papers ranging from Archest Platine, Cranes Cover to the new Adox uncoated baryta paper and some mixed media papers from Strathmore.  

For the next step, I will select two papers to coat with more precision and attempt to use in the camera.  I will be writing additional articles as I perform the testing. 

Join my Free Newsletter and never miss an update again. 

Check Out My Latest Books, Video Workshops, and Quick Start Guides For Darkroom and Large Format Photographers. 


Tim Layton Fine Art
Hi Mark, thanks for the comment. Stay tuned!
mark killmer(non-registered)
Great project, Tim. I am hoping to do this sort of thing myself. At this point, I'm albumen printing, but I hope to be able to up the ISO of the sensitiser until I can finally shoot "in camera" paper negatives.
I will be watching your results with interest!
No comments posted.

B&H Logo 300x206B&H Logo 300x206

Media & News Updates



Popular Articles